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The Moelwynion / 2 days / 8 miles (12km)

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Date: 14 Sep 2007
Start / Finish: Tanygrisiau. Small free car park 686450.
Maps: Explorer OL17: Snowdon & Conwy Valley.

Day 1Moelwyn Bach, Craigysgafn & Moelwyn Mawr3.5 miles / 2360 feet (5.7km / 719m)
Day 2Moel-yr-hydd, Foel Ddu & Cwmorthin3.8 miles / 370 feet (6.2km / 112m)

A very short trip of an afternoon and morning, planned at short notice to get a quick night out in the hills in a cloudy weather stream. Moelwyn Mawr is a popular mountain and we expected to see some people coming down, but the whole area was deserted on the first day.

Picturesque sunsets have been lacking for ages, but we saw a good one this time from our pitch on Moelwyn Mawr.

Day 1 - Moelwyn Bach, Craigysgafn & Moelwyn Mawr

Our approach was via the Stwlan reservoir access road, our first ascent of the Moelwynion from this side, and we soon saw the very steep disused incline that climbs through a tunnel towards Moel-yr-hydd, an ascent route we noted for a future trip. Shortly after the reservoir dam comes into view, a waymark directs L across the infant Afon Stwlan and a path continues upwards on the S side. Steps are provided to cross the dam wall at the S end, and a thin path continues across a rather wet area and climbs to Bwlch Stwlan. The reservoir has a rather industrial look about it but there was a pleasing view across to Moel-yr-hydd.

Llyn Stwlan & Moel-yr-hydd
Llyn Stwlan & Moel-yr-hydd (14 Sep 2007__16:04:13)

A short sharp climb around the gnarled northern face of Moelwyn Bach quickly gains the cairn, which offers good views over the Vale of Ffestiniog to the hills beyond and seaward over the estuary. The tops here were still clear and our decision to climb the Moelwynion on the first day was right.

Moelwyn Mawr from Moelwyn Bach
Moelwyn Mawr from Moelwyn Bach (14 Sep 2007__16:36:18)

We returned to Bwlch Stwlan the same way and started the rocky ascent of Craigysgafn, passing the prominent band of white quartz just below the fine rocky summit. It is then only a short drop before the final climb to Moelwyn Mawr where we made our pitch. The weather had held despite the profusion of menacing clouds and there was even intermittent sunshine, although there was an autumnal chill in the gusty wind that reminded us of the shortening days. The views towards northern Snowdonia were very atmospheric and later there was a lovely orange glow on Moelwyn Bach.

Tent pitch on Moelwyn Mawr
Tent pitch on Moelwyn Mawr (14 Sep 2007__18:09:06)
Evening light on Moelwyn Bach
Evening light on Moelwyn Bach (14 Sep 2007__19:05:26)

Later there was a fine sunset sky with the unmistakable profile of the Nantlle ridge and Mynydd Mawr prominent on the horizon. The trig point made a good shield against the direct sun.

Sunset sky & Nantlle ridge from pitch on Moelwyn Mawr
Sunset sky & Nantlle ridge from pitch on Moelwyn Mawr (14 Sep 2007__19:06:13)
Trig point and sunset sky from pitch on Moelwyn Mawr
Trig point and sunset sky from pitch on Moelwyn Mawr (14 Sep 2007__19:07:14)

Day 2 - Moel-yr-hydd, Foel Ddu & Cwmorthin

A cold night was forecast which suggested the possibility of a morning inversion but it was not to be: it was a lot less cold than expected and the mist dominated the almost still air. Descending E then NE we emerged from the mist mantle just above the deep clefts of the disused quarry with Moel-yr-hydd ahead.

Moel-yr-hydd
Moel-yr-hydd (15 Sep 2007__10:01:00)

Climbing the short rise of Foel Ddu, Llyn Cwmorthin came into view below the mist shrouded slopes of Allt Fawr.

Llyn Cwmorthin from Foel Ddu
Llyn Cwmorthin from Foel Ddu (15 Sep 2007__10:52:44)

We descended westwards to avoid the steep northern crags of Foel Ddu and slanted down towards the main ruined building of Rhosydd quarry. There are several quarry tracks here, the main one descends NE into Bwlch Cwmorthin and down to the lake. The many ruined buildings in this area are fascinating to explore including Rhosydd Chapel, and one can only imagine the hard lives of the quarrymen who worked here in this often very bleak valley.

For a detailed account of the Rhosydd quarry including its history, operation and photos, see Dave Sallery's website.

Quarry building in Cwmorthin
Quarry building in Cwmorthin (15 Sep 2007__12:42:35)
Llyn Cwmorthin
Llyn Cwmorthin (15 Sep 2007__12:58:47)

Lower down the valley track the hard craggy side of Moel-yr-hydd and Craig yr Wrysgan are well seen. The track leads easily down to the road head above Tanygrisiau.

Craig yr Wrysgan
Craig yr Wrysgan (15 Sep 2007__13:14:48)